You CAN Work Out and Snack Healthy On the Go - Here's How

Getting your workouts in and eating healthy are more than possible when you're on the go!  It just requires some planning.  I've been out of the office for work most of this week, and therefore I didn't have access to a fridge or microwave like I usually do.  I had to be strategic about snacks.  I also had to be strategic about workouts too, since the workday was unusual and didn't allow time for my usual kickboxing class at night.  Check out my tips below for ways to snack healthy and fit in a workout if you're not in your usual environment.

How to Stay Healthy While on the Go

SNACKS:

Taking the time to pack little snacks for yourself can save you time in the long run, not to mention money AND calories!  You save time in your day by not needing to run down to the store or go through the drive-thru.  Money is saved if you can stock up on certain things (yogurts, fruits, nuts, etc.) and the calories you can save by eating fresh, nutritious foods will help in keeping the pounds away.  Portable and healthy are the two criteria for me when I'm packing my mini cooler for the day.  Small baggies or tupperware containers are your best friends here and ice packs also come in handy if your snacks need to stay cool for a while (e.g. yogurt).  Check out my list below of go-to snacks to curb hunger while out and about.

Healthy & Portable Snack

WORK OUTS:

I know what you might be thinking - "If I'm out and about, I don't have time to workout and I also don't have any equipment."  No worries!  You don't need equipment to get your heart pumping and a little sweat going.  If you can find 10 to 15 minutes in your day (and also some floorspace), you've got no excuse.  Driving by a park or field on your way to or from?  Have some space in the room/building/office you're in?  Get up and get moving!  Here are some body weight exercises you can do to keep the blood flowing during your day.  If you can set aside 15 minutes to do this workout all the way through, even better!  (Just remember to pack a change of clothes, 'cause you'll work up a sweat!)

No Equipment Do Anywhere Workout

I hope this helps you plan your day if you're out of the office and on the go!  Save the workout image (and snack options, too) to a Pinterest board or to your phone so you have it with you and ready to go at a moment's notice!  

Readers: chat with me! Do you have any snacks that you like to have with you or exercises that you like to do while you're out?  Comment and share them with everyone!

Supermarket Savvy: 9 Grocery Shopping and Food Storage Tips for Healthier Meals

The grocery store can make or break your healthy lifestyle habits.  And with the hard work you've put into your fitness regimen, you don't want to destroy all the gains you've been making with unhealthy, nutrient-poor foods!  Here are some of my general tips for navigating the grocery store healthfully, and ways to not break the bank while doing so. 

9 Tips for Healthy Grocery Shopping and Food Storage

1 | Don't go shopping hungry.

This might be an obvious tip, but going grocery shopping hungry inevitably leads to impulse buying.  And more often than not, those impulse food purchases come in the form of nutrient-poor, high-calorie snack foods (unless you have the strongest willpower known to man!).  You know, the cookies that look so good on the package, those chips that you can't live without, and oh, the chocolate cake or candy bars right at eye level.  To avoid filling your cart with unnecessary goodies, chow down before you go.  Go shopping after breakfast or after dinner.  If you're planning on stopping by the store on the way home, make sure to plan ahead and pack yourself a quick snack (protein bar, an apple, a banana, a yogurt, etc.) and have it right before you leave.

2 | Plan your meals. 

Obviously you need some type of plan before you go grocery shopping.  But the type of planning I'm talking about is really sitting down and planning out your meals for the week.  Yes, the week.  A lot of you probably already do this, but I find it really helpful to take a weekend day (say, Sunday) and write out what meals you will have for the week ahead.  That includes breakfast, lunch, dinner, and your snacks.  That way you will know ahead of time what you are going to need to buy at the store and won't be left wondering what's for dinner mid-week. 

3 | Make a list and stick to it.  

Making a list is important not only so you don't forget those key items, but also so you don't willy-nilly grab things that you don't need.  Buy only the ingredients that you NEED for your meals and snacks for the coming days or week.  This will help avoid the junk food stockpile and also keep the grocery bill down.

4 | Check the weekly circulars and clip coupons.  

I used to not be a big coupon person.  I never bothered to check those mailer inserts for bargains.  I just went to get what I needed and that was that.  Within the past few years though, I've started taking the time to actually look through the weekly circulars from local grocery stores to see where I could get the best deals.  Sometimes this means going to multiple stores to save a little bit of money, but more often than not I will go to the store that has the most items I need on sale.  I'll also cut coupons for the items I know I will need.  A few cents saved here and there can really add up - especially if your store doubles coupons!  For a quick guide on coupon doubling, click here.

5 | Buy items on sale (and stock up).  

After you've done your research in the weekly circulars, buy the items that are on sale.  Even if you aren't going to use them in that week's meal plan, there's no harm in buying things that you will use eventually.  Canned goods on sale this week?  Great!  Stock up!  Chicken breast is buy one get one free?  Awesome, grab a few!  You can always freeze what you won't be using immediately, or if it's safe to store at room temperature, store it on the shelf.

6 | Buy in season. 

In-season fresh veggies and fruits are way more flavorful than those bought out of season.  Not to mention, in-season produce is often cheaper.  Try to make recipes and meals using what fruits and veggies are in their prime at the time and you'll save money in your wallet and add flavor to your plate.  It's Fall right now, so all the squashes, apples, pomegranates, kale, etc. are ripe for the picking.  Scroll to the bottom of the post to see a handy chart for what's in season at what time.  You can also click here for a handy interactive map of peak-season produce by month.

7 | Check the label.  

It might add a few minutes to your grocery shopping trip, but taking the time to actually turn the package over to read the ingredient list and nutritional information can make a world of difference.  Opt for low(er)-sodium or no-salt added items, especially if they are canned or jarred, premade spice mixes, or premade soups.  Also choose items with no sugar added.  (Examples: canned/packaged fruit, salad dressing, etc.)  Check the actual list of ingredients below the label, too.  Click here for the FDA's quick reference guide to food labels and nutritional information (very helpful!).

8 | Keep items in sight.  

A lot of money is wasted on produce that just sits in the fridge, out of sight and unused.  I'm completely guilty of this.  This past week I was fully intending on cooking 2 packages of butternut squash, but when I opened the drawer to get them out, they were moldy and unusable.  Bummer!  I find it's most helpful to put the items that spoil easily within eyesight or at eye level in your fridge, or on the shelf.  That way you'll be reminded that you have it, and will be more likely to use it or eat it before it goes bad.

9 | Freezers are your best friend.  

So chicken breast was on sale this week and you stocked up?  You bought a huge supply of veggies that you can't possibly use up all at once?  Or you made a crockpot full of soup that definitely won't be eaten by Friday?  Freeze it!  Store extra food or leftovers in the freezer if you aren't going to be using them immediately, and thaw when you need them.  (A somewhat obvious pointer on freezing large quantities of soup/stew: freeze in multiple containers holding a few servings each.  That way you don't have to thaw another huge quantity that you won't be able to eat before it goes bad.)

Found at: www.epicurious.com

Found at: www.epicurious.com

Keep these things in mind the next time you're heading out to the grocery store.  Until next time, here's to a week of healthy and happy shopping, meal planning, and eating!  Have a great week everyone!

Readers: chat with me!  What tips do you have for planning ahead and making the most out of your grocery shopping?  What do you usually shop for?  Favorite stores?

4 Ways to Stay Healthy During Times of Stress

We all have overwhelming weeks, don't we?  Those weeks where nothing seems to be going your way, and the last thing you need to worry about is fitting in time to prep meals and work out.   This past week was like that for me.  I haven't had nearly the time I'd like to devote to my workouts and meal prep (not to mention my certification studies!).   It was trying to say the least.

That said, there are so many ways to stay calm during stressful times, and still maintain a healthy diet and exercise plan, even if it's not on par with your usual routine.  Every little bit counts - every healthy choice you make is one step toward your ultimate goal.  One of my favorite quotes during these times is, "Do what you can, with what you have, where you are."  

I think it's a perfect reminder to be gentle with ourselves during times of chaos and try to do what we can to minimize burdens, but realize that sometimes, stressful situations arise that are beyond our control.

Here are a few strategies I used this week to help maintain my cool:

  1. Getting enough sleep.  We all know by now that we're supposed to get about 8 hours of sleep per night.  And we also know that if we don't, our bodies and minds pay a price.  For me, this week was full of some pretty big life decisions (the main one being buying a new car) so I needed to be of a clear, focused mind in order to make such a huge purchase.  Among other things, getting enough sleep was a priority.
  2. Maintaining a healthy diet.  Eating clean and choosing to nourish your body with the nutrients it needs during stressful times can have huge impacts on how you feel and can help in keeping your mind sharp in order to tackle what's on your plate (pun intended :) ).  I didn't have a lot of time to prepare meals this week, so I had to buy lunch and dinner often.  This usually meant making a trip to the store for prepared meals or going to the cafeteria next to where I work and trying to choose the healthiest options they had to offer.  Usually this was a salad with some kind of protein (chicken, tuna, turkey) - light on the dressing! - a cup of low-sodium soup full of veggies, and a piece of fruit.  I've found when I'm stressed, like most of us, I'm more tempted to consider getting a bag of chips or a cookie because they're convenient, but I remember that the more crap I eat, the worse I feel.  If you can make the healthy decision and choose better, you can take control over how your body feels and you'll be much more likely to make better, healthier decisions in other areas of your life.
  3. Fit in your "workouts" during your everyday activities.  That may sound weird, so let me explain.  Sure, I didn't have time to get in my usual workouts this week, but I tried to compensate by doing a few things throughout my day that would add some kind of physical activity and help me feel energized.  For example, walking to the cafeteria to get lunch.  There were some gorgeous days this past week, so getting outside for a brisk walk helped me feel like I was still staying active even though I wasn't getting to the gym.   If I went to the store, or anywhere where I needed to drive, I tried to park far away from the entrance in order to get a few more steps in throughout my day.  I also made a point of getting up out of my desk more frequently than I usually do.   Other ideas to try: use a basket instead of a shopping cart to carry your groceries or other items; do a few push ups and/or sit ups before bed or when you get up in the morning; if you're walking to and from in your home, try lunging to your destination instead.  Any little extra movement throughout your day will help keep the blood flowing and burn a few extra calories.
  4. Don't be too hard on yourself.  Beating yourself up about things you can't change doesn't change those things, it only makes you feel worse.  Be patient, the stressful times will end, and you will get back to your routine schedule when you can.  I know this is easier said than done in some situations, but if you have a positive outlook and know that things will work out in the end, they usually do.  That's how I approached my need of a new car.  With such a huge purchase, I didn't want to be hasty and buy the first one that I saw just to get the process over and done with.  I was patient and knew that things were going to work out how they were supposed to.  And sure enough, they did. 

I hope you all had a great week!  If anyone is curious, I DID buy a new (used) car this weekend (which is why my post is a day late) - a 2012 Nissan Altima.  So, some of the stress is behind me now, and I am looking forward to a less stressful, healthier week ahead.  I will be traveling to Nashville, TN to see my parents later this week, so stay tuned for some posts about the vacation and for some healthy tips while traveling and being away from home.  Enjoy your week!